Vailankanni ShrineVailankanni, Nagapattinam District, Tamilnadu, India
Father Nathan India Trip | January 2020
A Message from Father Nathan
My dearest people who are close to my heart!
Greetings from India
I want to share a couple of videos of my visit to the Vailankanni Shrine.
Yesterday we went to one of the shrines – The Basilica of Our Lady of Good Health. It’s called our Lady of Velankanni… every day this is situation of the mass. The church is full.
People standing all over outside and attending mass.
The second video shows Pilgrims on their knees walking from the old church to the new church … this is called second Fatima …people from all walks of life come over here to worship and seek healing.
Basilica of Our Lady of Good Health
Devotion to Our Lady of Good Health of Velankanni can be traced back to the mid-16th century. Three miracles happened here:
First – The apparition of Blessed Mary and the Christ Child to a local shepard boy delivering milk.
Along the way he met a beautiful woman holding a child, who asked for some milk for the little one. After giving her the milk, he continued on his way, and upon making the delivery discovered that the jug was now completely full of fresh, cold milk. A small shrine was built near the site where the boy encountered the woman, a location that came to be called Matha Kulam, which means Our Lady’s Pool.
Second – The healing of a handicapped buttermilk vendor.
A beautiful woman with a young boy in her arms appeared to a young crippled boy selling buttermilk. The little boy asked for some buttermilk, and after he drank it, the woman asked the boy selling buttermilk to visit a gentleman in the next town and ask him to build a chapel in her honor at that location. The boy set out quickly and realized that he was no longer lame. A small thatched chapel was quickly built in honor of Our Lady of Health, called in Tamil “Arokia Matha”.
Third – The rescue of Portuguese sailors from a deadly sea storm. A Portuguese ship sailing from Macao to Sri Lanka was caught in a storm in the Bay of Bengal. They invoked the help of the Blessed Virgin under her title “Star of the Sea”. The storm subsided and the 150 men on board were saved. It was September 8, the Feast of the Nativity of Mary.
In thanksgiving, the sailors rebuilt the Shrine to Our Lady of Good Health, and continued to enhance it whenever their voyages brought them to the area,
Thatched Chapel to Major Basilica
The shrine that started as a thatched chapel in the mid-sixteenth century became a parish church in 1771 when Catholics in India were under persecution from the Dutch. Later in 1962 it was granted a Special status of a Minor Basilica by Pope John XXIII.
The shrine of Vailankanni was elevated to the status of ‘Minor Basilica’ and merged with the Major Basilica of Mary (Mary majore) in Rome on 3 November 1962 by Pope John XXIII.
More than 500 years later, the nine-day festival held each year in late August into September. The celebration is still observed and draws nearly 2 million pilgrims each year.
The Shrine of Our Lady of Vailankanni is also known as “the Lourdes of the East” because it is one of the most frequented pilgrimage centers in India.
The shrine has a beautiful website if you’d like to learn more.
With lots of love and ever at your service,
Fr. Sahayanthan Nathan
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